Vulnerable looked-after children turned away from mental health treatment

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The Education Committee’s report has been released today. Young people are being turned away by mental health services and looked-after children face significant challenges in getting access to mental health support.

The report notes that child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are turning away vulnerable young people in care because they have not met the high thresholds for treatment or because the children are without a stable placement. It further notes that this runs contrary to statutory guidance.

Looked-after children should never be refused a service on the grounds of their placement. The report recommends looked-after children be given priority access to mental health assessments by specialist practitioners, with subsequent treatment based on clinical need.

Neil Carmichael, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

“Local authorities have a special responsibility for the welfare of looked-after children. In spite of this duty, it’s clear that many looked-after children in England are not getting the mental health support they need. At present, CAMHS are not assessing or treating children in care because these children do not have a stable placement.

Given children in care may have unstable family lives and are frequently moving foster or residential placement, this inflexibility puts vulnerable children in care at a serious disadvantage in getting the support they deserve. This must change. We recommend children in care be given priority access to mental health assessments and never refused care based on their placement or severity of their condition”

Read the House of Commons Education Committee report in full here: Mental health and well-being of looked-after children

Commons Select Committee page: Vulnerable children turned away from mental health treatment report finds

Community Care comment: Children in care denied mental health services because of placement ‘uncertainty’


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